Why Did RI Fail to Detect Food Stamp Fraud at One Store for Six Long Years?


The Valley Breeze reports that

Sami Almuhtaseb, 45, of Smithfield, owner of Oasis Market, a convenience store located in Providence, pleaded guilty in federal court on April 15 to defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, of more than $1.1 million.

Almuhtaseb was able to rack up a cool $1.1 million haul because the fraud took place over six years. Six long, lucrative (for the store owner) years. SNAP, or food stamps, involves both state and federal tax dollars. If the State of Rhode Island (or the feds) had detected this fraud much sooner rather than letting it go on for six years, the tax dollars stolen and squandered would have been far lower. It is unacceptable that our elected officials appear to hold our hard earned tax dollars in such low regard.

This store owner is certainly not the only one to have committed SNAP fraud, nor is SNAP the only social program that is the target of fraud. It is imperative that our elected officials get serious about detecting and preventing this fraud both because it is the right thing to do and because of the impact on government’s image. A continued casual attitude towards the unnecessary squandering of tax dollars will only contribute to the public’s dislike and distrust of everything that government is doing or proposes to do — not to mention (self-preservation consideration) a negative impact at the voting both.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Fraud of the SNAP program is so common that probably no one chases it. Sort of like not bothering to bust marijuana smokers. In my experience they usually get caught when they are investigated for short changing the lottery money. Using ATM cards was supposed to clear this up, but where there is a will, there’s a way. Usually, the owner just scans a prepared list for $100 worth of groceries. Charges SNAP for the $100 and then hands $50 to the customer.

  • D. S. Crockett

    Can we deport this stiff?

  • guest

    Quite a conundrum for you “small government” types. Hire appropriate numbers of investigators to monitor this type of fraud or don’t and complain about it. It’s a lose-lose either way.

  • Terry Gorman

    Why does anyone think the first sign to go up in the front window of almost any new Variety Sore in Rhode Island states ” We accept SNAP and WIC “?